The Lost Forest
by Phyllis Root; Illustrations by Betsy Brown
University of Minnesota Press. 2019
Resembling a well-loved journal, brown with age, Root and Brown tell the story of a 144 acre old growth forest that stayed hidden from 1882 to 1958. Seventy-six years.
“In 1785 the Continental Congress passed a law to survey all the land in the new nation. Native people had lived and hunted, harvested and fished on the land for thousands of years. The land took care of them, and they took care of the land. But the government of the United States wanted their land, wanted that land to own and sell.”
Josiah R. King, with his three-man crew, were hired in 1882 to survey three townships in Minnesota. Working in Township 150. Range 27. Section 34 on a cold November day, King marked Coddington Lake about a half a mile farther north than it really was. Were they in a hurry to get home?
“There is no Pine Timber in the township.” As forests were destroyed all around, along with animals, bugs, insects, orchids and birds that nested in the trees, for seventy-six years no one ventured into Township 150. Range 27. Section 34.
Those red and white pine trees just grew taller and taller. Happily, now that 114 acres of forest is part of a National Forest. Hopefully, protected forever.
Root expertly weaves into the narrative a lesson in history and environmental science. Brown’s lush illustrations, in hues of brown and greens, are beautiful.
Back matter includes information on what an old growth forest is, where to see one in Minnesota, and a list of some species one might find in Lost Forty. An explanation on how land is measured, a glossary of surveyor words, and what a surveyor wears rounds out this interesting informational title.
The Lost Forest is a reminder to all that the natural world is more important left alone than paved into a parking lot.
Plenty to love in this book.
To write this review, I borrowed the book from my local public library.